This past weekend I had the pleasure of completing the Ground Search Team Leader course as put on by the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Many thanks to Ridge Meadows Search & Rescue for providing their facility in Maple Ridge.
This was my third weekend on SAR activities as I had SARScene two weeks ago and completed my Rope Rescue Team Member course in Squamish the weekend before. Needless to say I was already pretty tired even before the course began.
Not knowing much about the course other than having read the text book, I was quite anxious to get started. The course is quite secretive and no one who has taken the course would tell me much about it other than to work hard and remember SMEAC. This proved to be good advice.
Friday night went late. I was there past 10pm and so arrived home around 11pm and in bed by midnight. Up again on Saturday at 6am and out in the rain most of the day to be home again around the same time. Sunday was the test and my mind was mush.
The course is demanding and I found it downright frustrating sometimes. It pushes you and quickly shows you any weaknesses in your game. Even though it was tough I found it very rewarding. At the end I had this feeling to rush back out and do some of the things better a second time. It also showed me the value of slowing down a bit to do those few minutes of planning and team briefing. As much as we want to rush out the door it is critical to have a documented plan and some contingency ideas should the situation change (as it always does).
I have done a pile of leadership courses and this was by far the best for me. Lots of hands on mixed in with theory and classroom sessions. We have four amazing teachers who brought dozens of years of experience and knowledge to the table. They were super supportive yet pushed us to do our best.
Overall, I highly recommend all Search & Rescue professionals to strive to attending and hopefully completing this course. Well worth it.
My apologies for the intentionally vague and short post of this course. I didn’t take pictures on purpose and I won’t divulge any further details. This is a course you are better to experience that to just hear about.